Baylor Scott & White CEO: Frontline Health Care Heroes Inspire Me

by Dave Moore, Staff Writer

Pete McCanna has been on the job for four months as Baylor Scott & White‘s CEO, and he’s already drawing inspiration from the health care system’s frontline workers.

“I’ve enjoyed meeting and observing the resilience of our people — especially those on the frontlines — who have really been through a war the last two years,” McCanna told Dallas Regional Chamber President and CEO Dale Petroskey during the DRC’s Q2 Board of Advisors event on Wednesday, May 4. “Many of the young nurses at the front end of the pandemic were experiencing death that a typical nurse would not experience over the course of 10 years of their career.”

McCanna and Petroskey chatted during an in-person, fireside chat in the DRC’s Toyota Board Room. McCanna discussed what it’s like to lead the largest not-for-profit health system in Texas with 49,000 employees who work in 51 hospitals and more than 1,000 clinical sites across the state.

McCanna said Baylor Scott & White team members have demonstrated tremendous selflessness and resiliency throughout the pandemic.

McCanna said three positives came from COVID-19:

1. Boosted Confidence

“The pandemic gave our teams a lot of confidence,” McCanna said. “That is, if we can solve these problems on the fly, we can do anything, and I think that’s a positive platform to work from.”

2. Telemedicine and Data Science in Health Care

McCanna said virtual medicine capability will continue to expand for a variety of areas, short of medical procedures. Data science — fueled by hundreds of millions of health care records — will also yield better outcomes.

He said that technology is evolving so that health care professionals will be able to do a lab test and analyze a patient’s data alongside the medical histories of millions of other patients, to identify the correct diagnosis through artificial intelligence (AI). AI “will rapidly change diagnostics, which can be done with telemedicine,” McCanna said. “And it will deepen over time.”

3. Agile Decision-Making

“As a leader, it very much convinced me that a much more agile culture is the way to go,” McCanna said. “You cannot tackle complex problems with a top-down hierarchical structure. You’ve got to have field generals and lieutenants. They have to have a clear understanding of the entire context, and they have to have the delegated decision-making authority to make things happen without running up the chain.”

Panel: Pandemic Exacerbates Mental Health Crisis, New Behavioral Hospital Will Feature Best Treatments

Methodist Health Systems Medical Director Dr. Alipio Mascarenhas said the COVID-19 pandemic triggered an increase in substance abuse, as individuals self-medicated during isolation. At the same time, others who enjoyed a break from society, are now experiencing stress when returning to the office, he said.

Dr. Carol A. Tamminga, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern, said plans are underway for a state-of-the-art behavioral health hospital on the UT Southwestern campus.

She said there’s a critical need for additional inpatient mental health services in the Dallas Region. The closest current state hospital is 35 miles away in Terrell.

Tamminga said the 200-bed facility will be unique because it will be built from scratch — with no links to dated mental psychiatric hospitals.

“We’ll be able to build on what are the best treatments today,” she said. “We can build a structure that’s inviting, where people with mental illness can come and be taken care of.”

The Dallas Regional Chamber’s Public Policy team worked hard to build a community coalition to advocate for state funding for this behavioral health hospital. Through the great work of UT Southwestern and Texas lawmakers, including Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas), $283 million was secured.

Get engaged with the DRC’s Public Policy team.